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SavageLlama
03-14-2005, 12:25
Interesting profile of Lee Barry, who is now the oldest thru-hiker after passing Earl Shaffer's record with his 2004 thru-hike at age 81.


N.C. man now oldest 'thru-hiker' to traverse Appalachian Trail
By Jack Horan
Grand Forks Herald
March 13, 2005

SHELBY, N.C.

The Appalachian Trail opened in 1937 as a continuous footpath and, a year later, Lee Barry first set his boots on the trail.

At the time, Barry was a 15-year-old Boy Scout from Newark, N.J. He joined other scouts for a 100-mile hike of the Georgia-to-Maine trail.

As was required for the scouts, Barry fashioned his own pack from ash, hickory and World War I Army web belts. He made the troop's tent from white muslin, dipping the cloth into a pot of alum and paraffin to waterproof it.

Sixty-six years later, Barry, who now lives in Shelby, hit the Appalachian Trail in 2004, carrying a homemade pack (made from nylon with no frame) and wielding a pair of hiking poles for stability. With shuttles provided by his wife, Lois, he started Jan. 2 at the trail's southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Ga., hiking for three weeks at a time and returning home for monthly church council meetings. When he finished walking the trail's 2,175 miles on Nov. 20, he had turned 81.

Though he didn't set out to do so, Barry became the oldest "thru-hiker," based on records kept by the Appalachian Trail Conference in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. A "thru-hiker" is one who intends to complete the trail on a continual, but not necessarily non-stop, basis, according to spokesman Brian King.

The "Easy One," Barry's trail name, edged out "The Crazy One," who was the late Earl Shaffer, the first person in 1948 to make a thru-hike. Shaffer completed his third and final thru-hike in 1998, finishing just before his 80th birthday. (King said 82-year-old Mike Caetano of Pensacola, Fla., completed the trail in 2004, hiking sections over two years. Barry said he has met both Shaffer and Caetano on the trail.)

Barry said he was unaware of the age record until part-way through the trek. "The only thing I thought about," Barry said of his advancing years, "if it's going to get done, I've got to get it done now."

The trail has become Barry's second home. He first thru-hiked it in 1996 and finished section-by-section hikes from the late 1980s to 2000. While his contemporaries may play golf, fish or garden, Barry has spent a cumulative 4 in his retirement years scaling mountains and fording creeks on the AT.

Barry tempers his pace, knows his capabilities. "I don't mind huffing and puffing for hours," he said. "I just want to be out here for the fun of it. I don't abuse it; I just try to use it."

His scout days infected him with a love for hiking. After graduating from high school in 1940, he joined the Navy and served in World War II. Then he went to college under the GI Bill, eventually moved to Rochester, N.Y., to work as an engineer for Fasco Industries Inc. While in New York, Barry resumed hiking and conquered the 46 highest peaks in the Adirondack Mountains, bagging them once in warm weather months and again in winter, often in snowshoes, as well as 140 other mountains.

In 1974, he moved to Shelby to become general manager of Fasco's plant. The Blue Ridge Mountains were nearby so he joined the Carolina Mountain Club in Asheville and began "peak bagging." He climbed the 40 peaks 6,000 feet and higher, all in North Carolina and Tennessee. That inspired him to climb all peaks 5,000 feet and above. Then he took on all peaks 4,000 feet and above except for three near Murphy. (Peaks must have a 300-foot drop on all sides to qualify.) All told, he's surmounted 1,000 peaks from Georgia to Virginia.

In 1998, Barry was stung by yellow jackets mowing his lawn. He suffered a life-threatening allergic reaction. Another sting could be fatal. He began taking monthly shots to build up his immunity against vespids (bees, wasps, hornets), a process that took five years. He arranged his hikes seasonally to avoid active vespids.

The immunity program enabled him to consider - and plan - his 2004 thru-hike.

Thru-hiking the AT is a daunting challenge. King of the Appalachian Trail Conference said an estimated 1,535 prospective northbound thru-hikers started at Springer Mountain last year. About 20 percent finished.

Barry averaged 10 miles a day during his 220 days on the trail. He sometimes hiked north, sometimes south, depending on the location of highways that let Lois Barry pick him up. A sister, Helen Chambers of Boonton, N.J., shuttled him north of New Jersey. He summited Maine's Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus, on Aug. 10. He ended the hike in Sugar Grove, Va.

A trail minimalist, Barry carried only essentials. No books, no radio, no cell phone. He prepared meals by pouring boiling water into freezer bags' holding contents. Breakfast was a porridge of oatmeal, farina, grits and powdered milk. Lunch was cheese and peanut butter-jelly sandwiches. Dinner was chicken or tuna, noodles, textured vegetable powder and instant rice. No snacks, no cookies, no candy.

He didn't get sick. The only injury was a sprain to his right wrist, which he wrapped with duct tape.

With at least 15,000 miles under his boots, he plans to continue hiking but rules out another Appalachian Trail thru-hike. "I have nothing to prove at this point," said the Easy One.

At age 81, does he worry about suffering a heart attack in the wilderness? No. He'd rather die with his boots on than linger in a nursing home. "I love living. I'm a realist. If it should happen, what could be better?"

Best and worst of the AT

FAVORITE STRETCHES: The White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Roan Mountain area along the N.C.-Tennessee line, a series of grassy balds and panoramic views. "It feels like you're out West some place, not in North Carolina," Barry said.

WORST EXPERIENCE: "Probably crossing the swollen streams (filled from the 2004 hurricanes). Up north they don't have foot bridges." He sometimes forded streams with chest-high water.

BEST EXPERIENCE: Hiking near Andover, Maine, Barry met a trail worker who invited him home for breakfast. The man drove Barry 12 miles to his hostel and fed him omelets, toast, fruit, milk and strawberry shortcake. "Stuffed like a hog, he drove me back to the trail - just like that."

# # #

The Solemates
03-14-2005, 12:30
What a great guy. Glad we got to talk with him on several occasions.

Youngblood
03-14-2005, 13:23
That is a great story. I couldn't help but notice this phrase imbeded in the text:
.... King of the Appalachian Trail Conference ...It is a catching phrase, what is your title? :datz
Youngblood

Rain Man
03-14-2005, 13:49
Anybody know when this hiker summitted Katahdin?

Rain:sunMan

.

The Solemates
03-14-2005, 13:52
Anybody know when this hiker summitted Katahdin?

Rain:sunMan

.

The article said Aug 10. Pay attention. ;)

rumbler
03-14-2005, 15:05
I was under the impression that PawPaw was 82 when he hiked in 2002.

Jaybird
03-14-2005, 15:19
I'm with RUMBLER on this one...




"PAW-PAW" (http://www.whiteblaze.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/2167/sort/1/cat/534/page/3) has been hiking for years...& was @ least 82 when he hiked the WHOLE THANG!


"Paw-Paw" referred to Earl Shaffer as..."The Kid". hehehehehehe :D

weary
03-14-2005, 15:20
I was under the impression that PawPaw was 82 when he hiked in 2002.
Paw Paw was definitely 82 when I met him on Saddleback in 2002. But No one I've asked seems to know if he ever reached Katahdin or whether he had skipped sections before reaching Maine.

I sensed he did the trail the way I did, doing whatever seemed most interesting as he worked his way north. Either he didn't finish, or he didn't register with ATC, or he didn't provide his age when he signed in for a patch.

He did have excellent tastes in bourbon: Maker's Mark.

Weary

The Old Fhart
03-14-2005, 15:26
I'd go with Paw-Paw but I think he said on his last thru there was a small section he had missed, and had to go back and do, or something like that, I forget the details. Whoever it is, congratulations to both!

MOWGLI
03-14-2005, 15:33
I'd go with Paw-Paw but I think he said on his last thru there was a small section he had missed, and had to go back and do, or something like that, I forget the details. Whoever it is, congratulations to both!


How is Paw Paw doing? I met his daughter at Trail Days in '04, and she said he wasn't feeling well.

The Old Fhart
03-14-2005, 15:43
I also missed Paw-Paw at Trail Days last year. I heard he was on medication (heart?) but don't really know. Hopefully he'll make it this year. I love to listen to his stories or watch him flirt with the women. He's still young at heart. :)

Mountain Dew
03-14-2005, 15:51
Perhaps we should defer to Lone Wolf on this matter. Paw Paw is considered a member of Hobo Central I believe. If memory serves me justice I remember Lone Wolf once saying that Paw Paw missed several sections. In 2003 I wanted to get a picture with Paw Paw and my girlfriend. He looked Mountain Poohbear, my then girlfriend, up and down before standing right between us for the picture. He wasn't in a hurry to let her go either. :(

Jaybird
03-14-2005, 15:59
my buddy Model T (http://www.modelt.net) had this to say:





I'd also go with Paw-paw. He told me (verified by Pirate, who helped him with the final section) that he had to flip-flop from Fontana (I think) back to Springer to finish his thru-hike. Paw-paw probably never contacted ATC with an official "thru-hiker" notification so didn't get credit at doing it at age 82. Knowing Paw-paw, he could probably care less. Doesn't take anything away from "Easy One" at 81--a remarkable feat!
Later,


Model T (http://www.modelt.net)

SavageLlama
03-14-2005, 21:57
WORST EXPERIENCE: "Probably crossing the swollen streams (filled from the 2004 hurricanes). Up north they don't have foot bridges." He sometimes forded streams with chest-high water.
I just hope I can ford chest-deep water when I'm 82. :D

Mountain Dew
03-15-2005, 00:24
Doing a search under "Paw Paw" I came upon this thread, "Easy one did it". This was a post made on that thread....

Lone Wolf, "Paw Paw was 82 when he hiked but missed quite a few miles."

Kerosene
03-16-2005, 19:11
I just hope I can ford chest-deep water when I'm 82. :DI just hope I can walk when I'm 82.

weary
03-16-2005, 20:29
I just hope I can ford chest-deep water when I'm 82. :D
Most "honest" people are lucky to do so at 28. With water up to your chest, you are on the verge of floating. It's not a great way to walk in a stream that is flowing fast. Skill or age has nothing to do with it. It's a matter of physics.

Weary

Spirit Walker
03-17-2005, 11:20
If the water is fast, you're lucky if you can do anything beyond mid-thigh without swimming. I've been swept off my feet and it isn't fun. Exciting certainly, but not fun. I've also tried to cross streams that were less than hip deep and knew that I couldn't do it without taking a swim, so we went elsewhere. On a really fast stream, even knee deep can knock you down.